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Rep. Julie McCluskie: Delivering relief for hardworking Coloradans this special session

Dec 8, 2023

The story was originally published in the Summit Daily on December 8, 2023 here.

On Nov. 17, I gaveled the Colorado House of Representatives into the 2023 extraordinary session to pass an immediate, short-term solution to next year’s rising property taxes. We delivered results that will help the Coloradans that need the most help, especially in our mountain and rural communities that have felt the growing pressure from increasing housing values and the rising cost of living. 

After four days of robust discussions, we passed a package of bills that provide over $430 million in property tax relief without using TABOR refunds while also supporting hardworking Colorado families by increasing rental assistance, providing equal TABOR refunds and boosting tax relief for working families. Democrats put people over politics and brought ideas to Republicans that had broad bipartisan support. 

The main focus of the 2023 extraordinary session was SB23B-001, our property tax relief bill that now allows homeowners to exempt $55,000 of their home’s value from taxes. It also decreased the residential assessment rate from 6.765% to 6.7% for the 2023 tax year. The law provides responsible property tax relief while protecting funding for local services, like K-12 schools, fire districts and libraries. We had limited resources and tools to reduce taxes without cutting critical services like education. With this bill, we provided the largest tax reduction we could responsibly deliver without using TABOR surplus and without harming students, teachers or our schools. 

Our property tax reductions built off of similar legislation from the 2022 legislative session, which passed unanimously in the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. We listened to voters and delivered property tax reductions that protect schools without reducing what the state refunds to Coloradans under TABOR. 

Our package of bills put more money back into the pockets of hardworking Colorado families in a variety of ways, something that wouldn’t have been possible without a special session. By continuing popular equal TABOR refunds of $800 per filer, 2.3 million taxpayers and everyone making under $104,000 will see larger refunds, and lower income families will see hundreds of dollars more to help afford rent, groceries, health care, child care and other essentials. An identical law passed in 2022 with overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Additionally, we doubled tax credits for working low-income families, boosting the incomes of over 400,000 hardworking Coloradans by $185 million. Currently, the state Earned Income Tax Credit is 25% of the federal credit, with the average family receiving a $521 tax credit. By doubling the state EITC, working-class families will see hundreds of additional dollars back in their pockets so they can better support their families. Similar legislation passed the House earlier this year by a bipartisan vote of 54-9 with the approval of many House Republicans. 

We know that renters are undoubtedly struggling to keep up with rising rent and the cost of living. We nearly doubled rental assistance funds to $65 million for the year, keeping Coloradans safely housed so they can break out of cycles of poverty, homelessness and financial insecurity. This boost in funding will prevent thousands of evictions while ensuring landlords don’t suffer from financial losses. 

Finally, we expanded the Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer program to connect families with nutrition assistance during the summer months. Keeping kids well-fed is crucial so they can learn and grow. Now, families will receive added financial support to go towards groceries in the summer when school is not in session, saving them money on nutritious food. 

I’m proud of the work that we accomplished during the 2023 extraordinary session to provide immediate support for the Coloradans facing the brunt of the cost of living crisis. Our property tax relief legislation utilized the tools we have at the state level to help homeowners afford their property taxes next year, giving local governments more time to come up with an effective, long-term solution that meets the needs of their communities. 

This extraordinary session, we prioritized help to hardworking Coloradans in every corner of our great state, helping them combat our affordability crisis so they can better support themselves and their families. As I prepare for the 2024 Legislative Session, I’m committed to continuing our work in making Colorado affordable for everyone and working across the aisle to deliver results for Coloradans. 

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